My Upcycling Journey: The Funky Sidetable of Death!
Never before in my life have I ever waffled on something at a thrift store, then come back for it a week later only to find… it was still there. Huh. I should have figured that the other local upcyclers (with whom I’m hoping to connect at some point), had bypassed it because it was just too much work.
But I tossed it in my shopping cart, presented my discount-with-donation card and left the Salvation Army with my proud find. For $8.00.
I posted this picture to Facebook, where my 200 closest friends could admire it. The consensus was it hailed from the 1950s. Some previous upcycler had glued maps on it. I liked the maps, but they were ruined–torn, spilled nail polish… So I began to strip it off. Well… now I know why it was hadn’t been snatched up before I got there the second time.
I tried various chemicals, starting with the least harsh and working up to serious stuff that required goggles, a mask (they said respirator), and thick work gloves. (See my new profile picture.) In between, I tried ironing it with parchment paper between the iron and the glue, as someone on Upcyclers Anonymous suggested. Now that was an interesting learning about parchment paper and glue. So much more than just baking. More on that another day.
So I stripped and I scraped, a long, slow process taking weeks.
Under the maps, I found more paint. Under that layer, I found someone had handpainted bright orange aster blooms on it. Under that was the white paint you can see in the shots, which was probably lead-based and now I’m going to die. But not before I finish this blog post. I stopped stripping when I reached the white paint and just painted over it.
The legs were wobbly and there was no way to get at any nails or screws, so I built up little supports where the legs met the lower drawer using very old wood filler that I’d gotten custody of in the divorce. It worked, but it’s less than lovely. Afterward, I bought new wood filler that wasn’t 10 years past its expiry date.
The inside of the drawers still had the original flocking which I wanted to keep, so I washed it with dish soap, let it dry and discovered in doing so, I’d caused one of the drawers to bow outwards, meaning it would no longer fit in its slot. So I re-wet it, affixed a large clamp in the middle, tightened and let dry. Voila! A little bar soap (will rub the sides with an unscented candle next time), and the drawers slid seamlessly home.
Next, I painted the drawer fronts white and the body black. Sadly, I had accidentally damaged some of the veneer when scraping, making noticeable dings and dents.
The great thing about paint is that you can repaint! So the top became black and the drawer fronts gold. I used a cheap gold paint from the dollar store, so it looks a little orangey, but still.
Then I tried a stencil. I liked it, although it ran a bit.
I wanted to save the antique drawer pulls for another project, so dove into my for-donation bin and retrieved the knobs from my re-painted kitchen cabinets. (Goodbye, golden oak). I got my friend Hugh to show me how to use my new drill*. (*See my first upcycler post “Girls Don’t Need Tools.”) And it worked! First I used red nail polish over the golden oak “button,” didn’t like it so repainted them with black nail polish.
Everything got a coat of polyacrylic to protect the paint.
And the finished product now sits in by my front door where the light is dim enough to mask the imperfections. And I love it!